Too Many Needles 

Homeless Youth Censored

Twenty-year-old Carly Laney has been clean for a year and a half now, and she's recently begun a project to document drug culture; her collection of photos include graphic shots of people shooting up. But now that she's finally able to expose the public to drug culture, she feels she's been silenced.

When she was offered a place in an art show, Street Youth Create Imagination, to show her photographs, she was thrilled. The show is being held at Boxcar Bertha's, a small Northwest café affiliated with Sisters of the Road, a homeless advocacy group. The show's purpose, as Laney understood it, was to expose the lives of street youth, "even though it might not be pretty."

Laney feels that her work was removed precisely because it was so effective; on opening night, Laney and fellow artist Kimberly Lindehart were forced to remove their artwork from the café. "We asked Laney to take it down because it made one of our employees feel unsafe," said Keith Bernhardt, Development Associate at Sisters of the Road. Bernhardt explained that they employ a man who is currently in recovery and complained that the pictures reminded him of too many disturbing memories. "One of our founding goals is to be a safe public place for anyone," Bernhardt explained. "We felt that this work violated that mission statement."

But Laney feels this excuse isn't enough to explain the humiliation and offense she felt at being censored. "The whole purpose is to engage the community with people they wouldn't really see," explained Laney. She added, "I'm sorry if this bothered one person, but I'm in recovery as well, and this is stuff that needs to be de-stigmatized."

The show will be up--without the work of Laney and Lindehart--through March. Laney plans to continue taking photographs and to show them in other venues.

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